The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Weekend’s Brief Respite

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

There is a passage in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I that is somewhat referable to this weekend in our nation. I refer not of course to the celebration of the end of the harvesting sugar cane crop, now replicated locally not in thanksgiving but, rather, in a latter day carnival of music and assorted varieties of public dancing. However, in the play, having just dealt with a civil uprising in his kingdom, Henry IV is tired of it all and announces to his council that he yearns for national unity to lead an English army on a crusade to the Holy Land.

There is much in recent local events that approximates this state of affairs. Over the past few weeks, we have been beset by political dissension among the national stakeholders over additionally imposed taxation; a claimed absence of consultation; a patent increase in gun violence, and impatient partisan calls for national elections even though the previously agreed and long accepted rules of governance provide expressly for when these should occur. Simply put, our local condition bears reminder of civil strife, although happily without the mortality rates of “civil butchery”.

The analogy does not end there. King Henry, at the start of the play, confesses his exhaustion with the prevailing civil discontent and expresses his contentment with the period of respite (a time for “frighted” peace to pant) even though in keeping with the theme of the metaphor, they may breathe only in “short-winded accents” of broils to be fought in “strands afar remote”.

So it is with us this weekend that marks the culmination of the Crop-Over festival. Forgotten for a while will be the acrimony over economic policy among the private sector or most of it, the labour organizations or most of them and the governing administration.

Shakespeare puts it better than I ever could:

…those opposed eyes,
Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
Did lately meet in the intestine shock
And furious close of civil butchery
Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks,
March all one way and be no more opposed
Against acquaintance, kindred and allies:
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
No more shall cut his master.

I suppose that I need to re-emphasize that I am in no way suggesting that the local situation is equivalent to a state of civil war, it is simply that the contrast between the popular protest march of July 24 and the festive progression from the National Stadium to Spring Garden tomorrow is at least remarkable.

Of course, we should not wish to have the Shakespearean analogy actualized any further. It may be recalled that at that very moment when he was speaking there came unwelcome news of skirmishes in Wales and in Scotland that caused the king to remark;

It seems then that the tidings of this broil
Brake off our business for the Holy Land.

Most Barbadians, I feel certain, will allow nothing to “break off” their business of festivity this weekend. There have been threats of violent disruption broadcast on the social media, but few are taking this seriously, either trusting to the Royal Barbados Police Force adequately to counter this should it eventuate, or simply relying on the hoary Barbadian superstition that nothing like that ever happens here.

I am not one much for the costumed (or what little there may be) street parade, but I enjoy at this time the lexical skills of some of the calypsonians especially those with the witty turn of phrase. In this regard, Mr William “Smokey” Burke’s “Persona non grata” stands out, especially his mimicry of the protagonist’s twisted syntax in the punch line, “Persona non grata is what you will always be are”. Skilful.

And even though its message is less uplifting and perhaps a parody of incitement to the criminality of vote buying and selling, I find Mr Ian “I-Web” Webster’s “Salesman” with its use of the en vogue local expression “up de ting” referring to the cost of purchasing his vote to be an exceedingly witty composition.

Unfortunately, this personal appreciation does not extend to the modern bashment genre where the emphasis appears to be not on subtlety or wit but rather on a direct entreaty to tell it like is.

Clearly, I may not hold the same views as a majority of Barbadians in this regard. The effort performed by the Flow People’s Monarch for this year is one where he has consumed so much alcohol that he needs someone to pick him up. All the same, this emphasis on drunken helplessness may be in the finest traditions of the genre.

Over 40 years ago, Mr Slinger Francisco, the renowned Mighty Sparrow, declaimed that he always made his family ‘shame by being drunk and disorderly and by spending “every weekend in de jail”.

Enjoy your weekend, dear reader!

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Pride and the “other” Industry

Rihanna wukkin up on Kadooment Day

Rihanna wukkin up on Kadooment Day

It is the Sunday before Kadooment and the minds of most readers, more likely than not, will be concentrated wonderfully on matters such as the various parties, the identity of the Calypso Monarch and likely Tune of the Crop for 2016, with securing a costume for the street parade on Monday, or simply entertaining friends and/or family who have chosen to visit the island at this time. For those disinclined or otherwise reluctant to take part in the pandemonium or todoment of the occasion, and who should find time today to peruse the newspaper, it is the duty of the columnist to provide the traditional intellectual stimulation that you may seek in these pages despite the merriment that surrounds us.

Today, I have decided, in rather light-hearted fashion, to discourse on the national motto, especially that aspect that pertains to industry, in light of some of the “work” that will be on display tomorrow.

I have always been puzzled by the motto we have chosen -“Pride and Industry”. Clearly the reference therein to “Pride” has nothing at all to do with the cardinal sin of “hubristic self-overestimation” but speaks rather to that justifiable pride that we ought to feel in our achievements as a nation.

And we do have much to be proud of. For one, our pacifist political nature that permits us to change administrations through the medium of the ballot box rather than through force of arms, despite the seeming impatience of some for that opportunity to arrive; our freedom of expression that sustains arguments critical of the establishment and allows peaceful protest of policy decisions; and our reliance on the rule of law to govern our civic interactions.

Of course, in recent times, the crown of our hitherto near-pristine existence have slipped somewhat and the challenges posed by a more globalized environment have caused a loss of pride owing to some practices that have become part of our culture. The apparent increase in access to illegal firearms, despite our best efforts to stem their acquisition, and their indiscriminate use by those bent on redressing some perceived wrong, have caused us to rethink our old feeling of personal security in our daily existence; the recurrent criticism of the relative sloth of our judicial system by the Car1bbean Court of Justice and its negative impact on the treasured constitutional guarantee of protection of the law of a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within a reasonable time have stung us to the core; and the national psyche and economic well-being have been assaulted by a seemingly interminable recession that threatens to reverse most of the gains we may have secured over the past 50 years.

As to the second quality, at first blush, the concept of “Industry” is an eminently laudable one and the constant public prayer for increased productivity as well as the general recognition that hard work is the key to success in most facets of life, embody the embracing of this aspect of the motto.

There is, however, another kind of ‘work” in which some of us are ready to engage in a few hours; however, the spelling is entirely different from the accepted English orthography and has been variously rendered as “wuk” or perhaps the more ostensibly descriptive, though admittedly rarer, “wuck”. This is what I mean by “the other industry”.

“Wucking up” appears to be a peculiarly Barbadian phenomenon, although there have frequently been claimed alliances with the African continent and appeals to Eastern belly-dancing to justify its public display. It is effected by some revelers as an interlude in their pilgrimage across the stage at the National Stadium and on the journey to Spring Garden either as a response to a non-verbal challenge from a fellow band-member or, perhaps less frequently, as a way of drawing public attention to themselves, although the accompanying half-embarrassed facial expressions would seem to belie this conclusion in many cases.

Ordinarily, public dancing to music should not require justification, but there is a side of Barbados that is consumed with how others see us, the very power that Robert Burns wished for from the “giftie “-

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

An’ foolish notion:

What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,

An ev’n devotion!”

And, for those persons, the simulated sexual congress that public “wucking up” involves, even for the less prudish among them, constitutes an unwholesome form of conduct not befitting of the image that the archetypal Barbadian should convey to the rest of the world.

For them, the industry (or work) in our motto is best manifested in keeping the environment free of litter, being as efficiently productive as possible in our daily lives and exhibiting creativity in thought and manufacture.

A Picture Sums It Up!


The sights and sound…yes the pic is meant to arouse sensibilities on a Sunday morning

There is a lot one could blog about this image. In this case the less said the better (check those grinning in the picture). All who witnessed this and similar incidences on the road, what was your thinking? Have we become numb to the point it makes no difference?

Recently Minister Stephen Lashley commented on the slack dress sightings at the popular  Wadadah’s Back 2 School Party. What does he and others in authority plan to do about it if anything? Yes individuals are responsible for their actions but some times one has to save jackasses from themselves.

Crop Over Costumes Cost Too Much

Submitted by Old Onions Bag

Barbados Superstar Rihanna ‘jumped’ in 2011

What you pay for, is what you get?
As promised I said I was going to write this one…a no brainer. Last price obtained for a band costume et al was $ 5oo flat…Horse shoed for real for that green. But has one ever wondered or done the calculations on this ask. What are you getting for your hard earned cash?

What you can see upfront of course….(no pun here) a lil pantsy and bra-D covered with beads and feathers from Samaroo’s here or in T&T..(either case forex outbound) cost of materials and time..give it $100 max. $120 if elaborate head gear. What else? Why there is security, $10, Admin $10,drinks $50,Food $20,Band party $ 25 and we being generous here.
How much that is let’s see…I make that $215- $235. Hmmm…nice bottom line of $285 per reveller. For a band of 2000 revellers , a nice profit of $570,000. Not bad for a budding entrepreneur planning to work three months a year.

But not being officious, people have been loving what they have been getting for years. Last reports the whole Sha Bangle is said to rake in $100 Million in economic activity….so who gives a care?

After all, the people do need to unwind and thereby releasing all pressures,so what if a few “blenzas” with it as well…… Long Live Crop Over!

Barbados Crop Over, The Greatest Summer Festival On Earth

Whether you judge based on the plane loads of Barbadians and tourists disembarking at Grantley Adams Airport, the jam-packed fetes, the many cruises off the West Coast of Barbados, the bumper to bumper traffic around Bridgetown many with H-number plates, capped by a rising excitement triggered by the culminating events of Pic of the Crop Finals, Foreday Morning, Bridgetown Market, Cohobblopot and the street jam Kadooment, Barbadians at home and abroad for the next few days will forget that world remains gripped in a world of economic uncertainty for a few days at least.

If the above was not enough to excite, next week Barbados will host Rihanna, arguably the world’s most visible entertainer in the WORLD at Kensington Oval to a sold out arena numbering 25,000. Did we mention that Rihanna is a Bajan?

Is Wuking Up "Without limits" Barbadian Culture?

Submitted by Yardbroom

Youths ‘wukking up’ 2 ‘Go Stabby’ during the Bajan Kadooment

In recent years a certain type of wuking up has become a popular Barbadian pastime. Its popularity has meant there is now a license to do anything in public, providing it is accompanied by music. My intention is not to take a moral view on this issue as I do not have that authority. However, if participants display in public, they cannot be surprised if people comment on a public medium.

Last year I saw a boy not more than ten years of age wuking up behind a fully grown woman. As the tempo of the music increased the boy got closer to the woman, encouraged by a crowd of adults who witnessed the spectacle. I moved away on seeing this exhibition, as I felt uncomfortable. Continue reading